Mudder’s Loose-Meat Cheeseburgers (And How to Look Your Best)

In all honesty, this post deals neither with mudder nor her burgers – loose or otherwise. Though I assure you, both are quite lovely and deserving of their own blog entries. Long story short: A few nights ago I went to a house party – five displaced Newfoundlanders in a house in Calgary; scattered beer made an appearance, I dare say. I’m normally that guy who’s constantly writing down hilarious quotes so that I can use them later, even if it’s just for my own entertainment. This particular night, I was writing fairly continuously. At one point, a friend was telling a story about how much he “dies fer mudder’s loose-meat cheeseburgers”. Thinking back, I have no idea where he went with that. But I knew that – relevant or not – I needed to throw it in to my next blog post.
For the record: Not so relevant. Eternally awesome.

[Note (and then I swear, I’ll get down to business): I just noticed that the acronym for my blog is HOAR. Phonetically, that shit’s just funny.]

And now, your favorite blogging HOAR brings you: How to Look Your Best Without Pricey Tools or Gimmicks (And Dude, I Swear, This is Not Going to Become a How-To Blog For Women).

I was just in the shower stroking my newly sprung neck pimple when I thought about all the little physical flaws we obsess about daily. They are so silly and irrelevant and reflect nothing of the unique energies that define us as individuals. It just so happens that that defining energy or “spirit” is held within a container that is fragile and susceptible to the elements.

And by elements I mean things like lack of sleep. And Doritos.

Our bodies are as durable as cardboard boxes in the basement of a flooded house. The rescue mission (and goal of this post) is to salvage the hidden gems from the wreck of the flood; to find and reclaim, say, your nan’s porcelain unicorn collection (that is, your beautiful spirit) from the soggy, sagging cardboard box (that is, your soggy, sagging body).

I really need to work harder on my inspirational metaphors.

Despite aaaaallll o’ dis (I’m pursing my lips, rocking my head side to side and tracing my pointed finger around the perimeter of my body), I’m far from perfect. I break out. I bloat. I forget to shave my legs. I stroke my neck pimples and blog about it. I sometimes actually cut people next to me with the dusty, razor-sharp shale that is my winterized foot skin. But at a young age, I learned the importance of accepting what your working with and tweaking it, ever so gingerly, to more accurately represent your inner truth. I was maybe ten-years old when an old school-friend of mom’s ran into mom and me at the Food Center (Country Road, Corner Brook, Newfoundland). Old-School-Friend genuinely beamed when her eyes met mine and she sweetly asked mom “is this your handsome son?”.

It’s a bit of a digression but in case you’re curious, I ran, devastated, from the store to wait for mom in the car. And in my flustered state, in an attempt to bury my face in my winter coat, I caught most of my neck flesh in the zipper. I’ve had issues with anything touching the front of my neck ever since…

The point is, I did not feel like mom’s handsome son. Despite my buzz cut and Pedro-stache, I felt like a beautiful, smart girl. And I decided then and there that, despite physical imperfections, I could make the world see me as just that.

So here are my top five (5) go-to secrets for concealing your outer flaws so your awareness of them doesn’t inhibit the free-flow of your inner beauty.

1. Stubborn Under-eye Circles
Between the dry prairie weather and regularly falling asleep with my contact lenses in, I often wake up looking like I’m peering out from behind two mini scrotal sacks. Sure, if you’re like me, you have “under-eye cream” (gathering dust in your Rubbermaid-brand coffee table alongside old bank statements and a cracked copy of Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You”). But sometimes you find yourself just too busy (drunk) to think of applying these treatments before bed. So why not just furiously pinch the “apples” of your cheeks? The benefit is two-fold: 1. You’ll have sweet, rosy cheeks. 2. If enough force is applied, your face flesh will swell enough to meet or surpass your fat eye-sacks, creating an even, uniform surface. Win-win.

2. Swollen Face
During certain times of the month, hormones fluctuate and your face expands. It’s normal. And the solution is simple: wear your hair as big as possible. Tease that shit. Sure, you run the risk of looking like Erin Brockovich having an allergic reaction to shellfish. But with practice, you’ll find that perfect ratio of hair-halo to moon-face. Size is relative.

3. The Arm-Pit Boob
Look around you. We’re all rockin’ ‘em. I say, flap on, sister/brother!

Also, try standing with your hands on your hips.

4. Camel toe / Moose knuckles
Before going into a public arena, tug furiously at the crotch-region of your pants to provide space for movement. Retreat to the restroom at scheduled intervals to repeat. Also, stand with feet hip-width apart, toes turned in to open up inner thigh space. Long shirts are also magical.

5. Wine
Sip it. But not too much. No one likes a sloppy drunk so please don’t go there. Going there cancels out all the skillful pinching, teasing and crotch-tugging you’ve perfected thus far. But I beseech you, readers, to practice like it’s your life’s purpose finding the perfect harmony that is sober-buzzitude. You’ll have the unstoppable confidence that only emanates when you are true to your inner spirit (and imbibed with three to five ounces of ethanol), yet the common sense to chew gum when close-talking and to not sleep with douche bags. It’s a fine line. Strut it.

Really, in the end – of this post, of this blog, of your every good and bad life experience – it all comes back to being true to yourself. The beauty of a genuine soul is unparalleled. If you can somehow shed the confines of the ego and groove to your most natural rhythm? No fat, pimple-necked, nut-sack-faced, camel-toed, chicken-winged shell can mask your hotness.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to perfecting #5. She’s a doozy.

Truly your,


Half-baked Recipe for a Happier You

People often ask me, Heather, how did you get so cool, attractive and hilarious?
Well, mom, while most of that comes naturally to me, I think it also took a lot of exhilarating, humiliating, hilarious, hurtful and happy experiences to mold me this close to goddess-like perfection.

[I am typing this with the top button of my jeans undone because I just ate a whole rotisserie chicken.]

Here are a few things that have helped yield a more positive, awesome me. They just may work for you too:

1. Braces.

No, not to make your teeth permanently straight – really, after a year or more of tasting metal, who wears a retainer? – but to give you that initial kick-in-the-nuts to start smiling more. Smiling is hot. Everyone looks good with a smile.

[Yes, you too, you there with the “not-so-white” or “less-than-aligned” chompers.]

My teeth are pretty much back to pre-brace status quo because the ol’ “tongue thrust” really has no other direction to go but forward. But I still smile like I’m being filmed for a Colgate ad.

[Note: as a child, my father would routinely ask my mother – within earshot of my sister and me, of course – if there was something “wrong in the head” with “that one”. It seemed whenever I would be comfortable, my tongue would be out. Get me cozy and my mouth was hanging open, my tongue fat and lifeless and beyond the confining limits of my teeth. It was my relaxed position; my mouth’s downward dog. My orthodontist fashioned a sweet little number to help rectify the problem – a retainer with razor sharp spikes which darted down and back from the roof of my mouth – but I was beyond rectification. And I’m pretty sure it just made my tongue swell.]

So try it (not the spiked retainer, the smiling). When you’re feeling your shittiest, grin like you just found the hidden jacuzzi jet. You’ll be hot-as-balls before you even have a chance to feel like an asshole who’s grinning to him/herself.

2. Turn off that defensiveness reflex.

It was seventh grade. Lucky for me, tightly rolled, thick, black bangs and pre-pubescent chick mustaches were all the rage. Not so lucky for me, none of my friends seemed to have caught on to the trend. Being amongst the swarthiest of my small town’s teen population and with hair textured not unlike a pervert’s moustache, I was a catch. The guys in my class would flirt with me by saying hilarious little things to get my attention: “You have hairier arms than my dad” or “Can I borrow your sun visor?”. And then they’d snicker in groups when I would slow dance with the tall, quiet girl from the volleyball team on the periphery of the couples’ circle at school dances. I knew what their laughter meant: man, I wish I was the tall, quiet girl from the girls’ volleyball team.

If I were wanting to be a miserable person, I may have seen something callous in their behaviour. But who wins then? I trust that they were coming from a place of love and I will not harbour toxic feelings of resentment. Plus they were just kids; their balls likely hadn’t yet dropped, bless ‘em.

[Let’s also take a moment to bless the mind-blowing technology that is laser hair removal.]

3. Sing in the car.

You ever sing while you’re driving and get so into it you can’t help but feel you’re actually performing? I do this all the time. What starts as just cheerful humming soon becomes really intense yelling at my windshield with an occasional, pained, boy-band glance at myself in the rear-view mirror for music-video effect. And if I miss a note or if my voice cracks (like a dude’s) I will have an actual moment of embarrassment. Then I will have ten minutes of laughing at how hilarious it is that I messed up my make-believe music video audition and actually got embarrassed.

Change the station. Repeat. Get your happy on.

4. Wear hats.

Evidenced below, I have a giant head. Always have. My mother insisted it was because I was so intelligent I had to have a big head to fit that big ol’ brain of mine. My dad’s already nagging fears were heightened as, at four-years-old and with my tongue hanging out, my head circumference was bigger than his.

In the 90’s, it became a really cute and endearing thing for junior high school girls to wear their boyfriends’ baseball hats; their shiny pony-tails bouncing and twirling through the hole in back. This was not an option for me. It may have been the fact that I didn’t “have a boyfriend”, per se. Mainly, though, I blame the head girth, exaggerated further by my thick, wooly hair mom insisted on brushing out rather than allowing to curl. As I got older, however, I discovered the blessing that is a big ol’ knitted hat or beanie. The bigger, the better. It fits all your shit. Win.

For some of you, a hat might not be the answer. The point is, for something as trivial as a physical oddity, there is likely a quick fix and you should not let any ugliness you bestow on it (momentarily, of course) penetrate that beautiful spirit of yours. That’s what people who truly see you will notice. I bet those of you reading didn’t even realize I had the head girth of a young wood bison.

5. Don’t beat yourself up about the past. It’s passed.

When I was in Brownies (before Girl Guides), I fell in love with a girl because I thought she was Atreyu from The Neverending Story. I’m not sure exactly how that illustrates the point I’m trying to make, but I think it’s a hilarious story. Back on track: if you did or said stupid or embarrassing things in the past, whether it was yesterday or years ago, let it go. Set it free from your world without and within. It no longer exists unless you let it. All you have is right now. As I type this, a friend just posted the following Facebook status update:
let it go

As difficult as it must be to believe, I do and say stupid shit all the time. My first day of work as a Physiotherapist, I took a call from a case worker with Workers’ Compensation. I was surprisingly flustered (my manager was standing right behind me). At the end of our conversation, what I intended as “you’re welcome” or “no problem” came out as “your problem”.

Your problem! Bye!

I allow myself five minutes of self-loathing and then apologize to myself and move on.

6. Laugh at yourself, goddammit!

Find humour in the things that would otherwise induce rage blackouts. Laugh it off rather than burst the ol’ arteries. This may come as a shock to you, but I tend to use self-deprecating humor as a form of self-acceptance. And it works. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

That should be enough wisdom to get you through till the end of the week. I’m stopping at six (6) because it’s my lucky number; it was my number in volleyball (speaking of which: Facebook creepily tells me the tall, shy girl is married now and has two beautiful children, in case you were curious. At some point I’ll have to thank her for all the dances. And for letting me lead). And also because it’s late and I’m drained of wit.

G’night, mom.

Pussy-Whipped Contentment

…Or, “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover (Because it’s Probably Full of Cat Shit)”. It was a title toss-up.

Around Thanksgiving, between the jigs and the reels, I found myself single again and alone in the big city. Calgary is great, but rent is steep. You either get hitched or slum it solo. I searched for weeks and weeks for a place that would suit my meagre budget and delusions of grandeur.

The first few were basement “suites”. Oooo, I thought. “Suites”. How posh of me living in a “suite”. This single living thing doesn’t seem so bad afterall…

Here is something I learned. The term “suite”, in the realm of apartments, means “no kitchen”. Oh there’s a counter and, if you’re lucky, a sink. And if you’re really lucky, they might even throw in a bar fridge and a hot plate.

A HOT PLATE! Sweet, leapin’ Judas Priest! Imagine, now, almost thirty-years-old living in a basement with a hot-plate! What, for when I make my Kraft Easy-Mac to eat on my “coffee table” of stacked beer cases with dog-eared naked lady posters adorning my walls? Take me out to a pasture and shoot me. I don’t know where I went astray in my 6+ years of university and relentless studying. But if this is my only option…Fuck.

One place I visited was in the basement of a beautiful home belonging to a sweet, older woman who lived alone. Something about her was so warm and familiar you’d swear she was either Mrs. Claus or a Newfoundlander. She really liked me and seemed thrilled to finally, possibly have a tenant; she was positively beaming. But deep down I knew, this could never happen.

I am better than a hotplate.

So I continued my search. If a place to myself meant a God-forsaken hotplate I was going to have to suck it up and look for a nice, presentable house with roommates. A house that would impress.

And I found it. I knew as soon as I saw it, this is it. A big, new, beautiful home with two roommates. The price was great! It seemed almost too good to be true. I accepted immediately.

“I should let you know”, one of the roommates (who was also the home owner) said as I signed the rental agreement, “I have four cats. They’re full grown. My boyfriend and I breed them at his place”.

[I would love to get into what I think of people who just “breed” pets in their homes to make money but it would be too great a digression, even for me. I like pizza.]

Ugh. Cats. I friggin’ hate cats. They poop in sand inside your house. And they shed. And they are strange and snooty and don’t respond to their names and I feel like most of them are spies (maybe working for the government?). But the house was so great and had a big kitchen with a real stove. And both roommates claimed they were rarely home. So I’d have a big, beautiful house all to myself; with a real kitchen I’d be proud to host parties in. My ego trumped my gut instinct.

“Oh. Hmm. Well…I mean the place is great. Clearly they’re well-behaved so…That’s cool!”

Yep. Cool.

I quickly learned that the cat-owner/landlady was MIA. As in, five out of seven days a week she stayed with her boyfriend at their sexy-time, red-light-cat-district in a neighbouring community. I literally saw her maybe one evening a week. The other roommate was also never around and the few times we spoke, she said she wanted nothing to do with the cats as their care was not a part of her rental agreement.

So I was on the cats’ radar. I was the only available animal around with opposable thumbs. They were quick to note my daily routine. Stumbling out of bed, bleary-eyed, at my usual 5:15 one morning, I opened my door, en route to the shower, to be greeted by eight glowing eyes from the dark hallway. All four of ’em just waiting for me, purring up the savage storm.

I guessed they were hungry. So I fed them.

The next day at 5:15am, I hear almost bird-like sounds coming from outside my room. Yet again, there they all were, eight creepy eyes, closer this time. So, before I could do anything I had to feed them; four fat cats crazy-8’ing themselves around my legs as I stumbled down the stairs to the kitchen.

Before I knew it, I’d become the Catfather. Their leader. I could not move anywhere without them accosting me. Each day when I’d come home from work, the two fat males would molest my legs while the other two wanted in on anything that belonged to me – my purse, my boots, my grocery bags. And even when their dishes were full, they wouldn’t eat until I was around. If I went to my room (which became my only cat-attack-free option) they would hold vigil outside.

[Check out the video of me trying to get ready for work one morning. There are only two in this video but often it would be all four. This became their thing, pawing at me from the other side of the wall, beckoning me to come out. Like zombies.]

And then there was the fat, orange cat’s “stomach issue”. Bless his heart, the old guy puked most days. The dramatic expulsion was as shocking as the trail of puke mounds produced. I’m not heartless, I felt really bad…But I still had to take a picture, just for evidence.

I was not prepared for this...

And then the works of them – I think in an act of rebellion for having been abandoned by their owner and left at the mercy of this asshole – would periodically poop on the floor in random places. The bathroom mat. In front of the fridge. The dining room floor. The front entrance. I mean, I’m no cat whisperer, but I think for four grown cats to be shooting off fecal SOS signals, something is amiss. Or maybe it was just a fuck you, mom. Either way, concerning.

So here I am, the new girl, having to text my landlady daily to report a poop party / puke parade. I felt terrible. I mean, I’m not above cleaning up after animals…But would this become a habit? The assumed role of zookeeper was never mentioned in the rental agreement. My landlord / the brood’s absentee mother would respond with something like, “Oh, ha! Another present, eh? Oh the joy of being a cat owner!”. Like this was a cool, casual thing. Like I was calling to tell her she got junk mail.

No. I mean there is a turd log on my shoe. And barf on the Welcome mat. It is now a Welbarf mat.

[For those of you I’ve completely disgusted, I apologize. I just really needed to get this out (that’s what Fritz, the cat, said). And I’m not done…]

Now to the general cleanliness and air quality of the place. I don’t know how I missed this at the house viewing. Everything – the coffee table, the couches, the candles, the TV, my face – was covered in cat hair. From the time I left my room to the time I left the house, my pants had to be rolled up above the knee in order for me to not look like Yeti at work. Sometimes I forgot to roll them down. I don’t know how many times I bashfully greeted my cute neighbor out shovelling his driveway, then realized, once done scraping my car and driving to work, that I still looked like a clam-digging asshole.

These cats were ruining my life.

And the smell. Oh, the smell. And surely I smelled like this too because the air was thick with it. How to describe the smell without being too crude…Imagine a cat taking a dump directly into your left nostril. Yeah, something like that. And despite hiding in my room with my door closed every evening, that bold aroma wafted its way up from the basement litter-box lair through the floor vents.

Here I was. In a big (too much to clean), beautiful (furry, urine-soaked) house (cat lair) all to myself (and four fat cat-zombies); with a real kitchen (the towels were furry; the cats sat on the counters) I’d be proud to host parties in (no one is ever to step foot in here). And I was miserable.

I lasted two and a half months then gave the landlady my notice. Then I called up Mrs. Claus whose basement suite, by some divine miracle, was still available.

I moved in two nights ago. And as I sit here in my cozy, clean little apartment, my glass of wine atop a Rubbermaid container and with a pot of water boiling on my hotplate, I could not be more content.

Tea time!

Flamin’ Hot Yogi Ready to be Lululemonated

Today I bit the bullet. I put on my big girl panties. I shit.

[As in “shit or get off the pot”…? Ok, fine, “I got off the pot”.]

I signed up for hot yoga. It’s been something I’ve been considering for a while but as they say, “procrastination makes imperfect!”.

[Note: no one says that]

The owner of the yoga studio was sweet and had a lovely face to match her long, lean yoga body. I resisted the need to let her yogi-esque perfection bias my behaviour (I don’t know…maybe I’d talk about recycling? Or chai something?) and before long, we were chatting it up like old friends. I told her how much I like beards. She told me the story of how she and her partner Ed met (Ed, also a business partner in the studio, later walked by. I said “nice to meet you, Don!”. Don?). It was great. I was stoked. I was gonna start today! The only class I could make, however, was simply entitled “Strong”. She was quick to dissuade me and point out several beginner classes being offered. Afterall I had never done a hot class before and “Strong” was their “toughest class”. I told her I’d think about it.

Bit stubborn, though, I am. I dug my hot pink yoga mat out of the bottom of a giant Rubbermaid container where it’s been hibernating for several weeks. Threw on a sports bra, an ultra thin Joe Fresh pale pink t-shirt with ruffled sleeves and yoga(ish) pants. And off I went. I felt pretty impressed with myself for having my own yoga mat. Not so much, though, when everyone then unrolled a second layer on top of their mats – a towel or perhaps some special hemp-infused blanket – same shape as the mat, used for, I could only assume, absorption of the dirty sweat fest we were about to create.

So we began the 75 minute class. To your first question, did you know beforehand that it was going to be 75 minutes?, my answer is no. To your second question, had you known, would you still have gone? my answer is no. Hells no. Is that even something people do? I have a 45 minute yoga DVD which I rarely complete in its entirety. I refuse to be aware of my body for longer than 28 minutes.

I quickly learned the invaluable importance of a towel to hot yoga practice. And not just one. Two towels are needed: a small one to wipe away the torrential flood spouting from your every pore (even my dead elbows were sweating). And a large one over your mat to prevent the slip-n-slide-like-disaster zone that will otherwise form below you. Not once but twice, while trying to gracefully hold an intricate inverted pose, my legs and arms shot out like they were spring loaded. Face plant. Twice. Once – the really dramatic one where I let out a butch, man-yelp – was when the teacher just happened to be standing next to me. So, hopefully, my mannish grease flop was witnessed by all.

I kept it together though. Minus the two spills I was pretty on par with everyone else, it seemed. That’s when my vision failed me. The overall lighting of the studio was dim and my contact lenses were dried on to my irises like burnt raisins. Disaster started with looking up at the ceiling lights during a pose, then coming out of the pose and looking at the instructor. You ever do that? Stare into a bright light then look at something else? You know, then, what happens to that something else when you look at it. That’s right, it disappears behind a blinding sun. I couldn’t see. No matter how hard I blinked, squinted, wiggled my dehydrated contact lenses, there was no return of normal vision. Now, I’ve done yoga before, but always following a teacher. Following a teacher, you wouldn’t know but I was Sri Sadasiva Brahman himself (yes, I just googled “famous yogis”). But without a visual guide, it’s allll just sounds. Chaturanga, rosh hashanah, someone’scallinya, painted gerbil, warrior 1, warrior 2, warrior princess. It’s all the same. Words. So I waited for my vision to return and did something that resembled Nell doing “Walk like an Egyptian” in the meantime. It was slippery and I was blind. But I’m pretty sure it was a beautiful thing.

To be honest, the blindness lasted maybe a minute and a half. But that’s a long time to be  improvising yoga. And just as my light blindness subsided, down poured the gallon of sweat that had clearly been pooling in my scalp in some grotesque skull cavern that I didn’t know I had. One tip of the head, and that salty ocean filled my entire right eyeball. I’m not sure if the contact lens was flushed out by the sweat river or flicked out during my frantic attempt to rub away the salt burn. Or hey, maybe it’s still sitting there in the back of my ocular cavity. Point is, my right eye was rendered useless.

Here’s why having a sweat flood in one eye is worse than having it in both: You got a sweat flood in both eyes? You politely excuse yourself and step outside the room to fix yourself; what choice do you have? You get the sweat flood in just the one? You persevere like a stubborn asshole. I bet that yoga teacher has never been continuously winked at for 38 minutes before tonight.

And then there’s the yoga attire. There should have been a memo. I’ll admit, I’m the first to make fun of the “Lululemon” pandemonium. “They’re pants, people”, I’d say (to no one). “Black pants. And a shirt. What’s the big frickin’ deal? I got this little number at Dominion for $7. How d’ya like them apples, suckaas?”.

[No, I have not ever uttered the words “how do you like them apples” but it seemed appropriate as I read what I was typing just before that. And yes, I read it back to myself with a Bostonian accent.]

Anyway, my stretchy cotton pants absorbed almost as much liquid as one-ply toilet paper. And my ultra-thin, pale pink cotton t-shirt with ruffled sleeves? Within ten minutes, it was see-through. Completely see-through. And you may well know that the walls of yoga studios are mirrors. So there I stood (flailed, flopped, grunted) in front of the entire class, topless, with two pale pink corsages around my shoulders. Oh, and don’t think your nipples only dart out like pencils when it’s cold. Oh no. It’s any temperature extreme. I need not elaborate.

But, all that aside… I did it. The whole 75 minutes. As I lay there in the dark amidst the gentle sounds of harps and loons from the CD player; as I focused on the rise and fall of my belly (-button swamp) and felt the cool refreshment of the complimentary lemongrass-soaked towel strewn across my face… I felt amazing. Peaceful and strong.

I did it.

It was totally worth it.

Holy eff it’s 2012!

And what have you done?

Last night I attended a New Year’s Eve house party in a chalet in the woods in western Newfoundland. Being the only single one of the bunch, I had a brief moment of panic at about five minutes to midnight. I wasn’t sure whether I’d feel like an outcast or a huge pervert sitting there, surrounded by a zealous smooch-fest. I considered going to the bathroom right before the countdown. But did I really want to ring in the new year faux-pooping? I was momentarily torn by indecision.

Unconsciously, I threw on my boots and coat and walked out into the snowy night. To prate about how magical the fat, fluffy snowflakes looked falling against a backdrop of fireworks and a silhouette of tall, ancient evergreens would probably bore you but… Suffice it to say: awesome.

…Ok, it’s not sufficed: It was pure tranquility. I literally (yes, as in actually, physically) swayed with the lull of popping fireworks and “happy new year”s. But more prominent than the soothing background hum of jubilation was the immediate peacefulness. The stillness. I felt the expanse of the black sky around me, promise in each flake. And it was perfect. It was a moment that could only be savored in solitude. I felt really grateful that I’d agreed to be my date for New Years.

I didn’t put out though. So…I mean, ya win some ya lose some, right?

Go forth readers (mom) and rock 2012. It’s gonna be a good one.